Would you ever write with someone else?

A question from Abbi:

I was talking with a comic who likes to get small writing groups together to bounce ideas off each other. I have heretofore been very protective of my writing and assumed all comedians would be insulted if invited to such a session. Now I'm wondering if it could actually help. She said you have to pick someone whose style of comedy you like and respect. Their purpose is to help you develop your ideas or take them in a new direction, not write your material for you or give you a direct punchline. Would you ever write with someone else or allow a group to influence your ideas?

Yes, I think writing with someone else can be very helpful and I do it on occasion. (I've only written with one other person at a time, not sure how a group session would work.) Sessions like that help cuz you get to say stuff out loud, bounce ideas around, get a different perspective, etc. How much influence others have is up to you. It's not like you have to follow their advice.

Def good to do it with someone you know, trust, and think is funny. You need to be able to tell each other straight up if something sucks.

Also, I definitely don't think it's insulting to be invited to do this. In general, feeling insulted or offended won't get ya far as a comic. Thick skin and all that.

And I'd advise against being protective of what you write. Most of what you (or anyone else) writes sucks. Oh well. Deal with it, get it out there, kill the crap, and build on the occasional jewels.

In fact, it's kind of a good idea to fall in love with negative feedback. Compliments are nice but knowing what went wrong is just as educational (maybe more?) than knowing what went right.

P.S. I know this Q&A stuff makes me sound like a condescending prick. (OK, I usually sound like that anyway.) Anyhow, feel free to take it all with a grain of salt or post why you disagree in the comments. You can also leave any more questions in the comments.


karyrogers said...

I like sitting around with my friends and trying to make each other laugh. It pushes you to places you might not go otherwise and your friends' groans let you know if you go too far.

Granted, my experience has been sketch writing but I think it would work for developing individual material as well.

Matt Ruby said...

Good point Kary. A lot of my bits evolve out of random conversations with friends where I stumble on something funny or something I get fired up about. I don't consider those "group writing sessions" but I guess the impact is the same.

Abbi Crutchfield said...

Laughing with friends is usually where I get my original idea. Great point on not being protective of crappy material. Also on welcoming negative feedback to figure out how to change something.

Kevin said...

I think the important thing is to not be too isolated from the world or real people, whether that means simply talking with people a lot or actually writing together.

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